Fitzpatrick keeps his cool to earn a point
Coach Alan Reeves saluted a second-half fightback from the young Dons after David Fitzpatrick struck a late leveller at Portsmouth today.
Fitzpatrick (pictured) made no mistake from the penalty spot two minutes from time to earn a 1-1 draw in the Final Third Development League against an experienced Pompey side that included several players with first-team experience including Jack Whatmough, Tom Craddock and Danny Hollands.
Wimbledon’s development side have now lost just once in their last seven games with that defeat coming at AFC Bournemouth last Tuesday.
Mark Phillips took a vital step on the way back from injury by getting 90 minutes under his belt, the defender coming through well after scoring an own goal that Alan Reeves described as “unfortunate”.
Having gone behind after just two minutes, Reeves was pleased with the fighting spirit shown by the Dons at Furze Lane against a side with much more experience.
“In the first half we struggled to get to grips with their approach as they played a 3-5-2,” said Reeves. “The goal they scored was unfortunate as it was a cross swung in that deflected off Mark and Joe McDonnell couldn’t do anything about it. After a reorganisation at half-time we were much better in the second half. They had five or six players with first-team experience, but we ended the game with six Under-18s on the pitch.
“Though I’m more concerned with the development of our players, it was good for the lads to get a result as they don’t like getting beat. In the first-half our forwards Egli Kaja and Dan Agyei were up against three centre-backs and we played into Portsmouth’s hands. After the break we started to get the ball into the channels for them. We swarmed all over them in the second half and the equaliser was the least we deserved.”
That came after Kaja was fouled in the box and Fitzpatrick made no mistake from 12 yards. Tom Beere captained the side with Will Nightingale having made his first-team debut.
Reeves reckons that Nightingale’s step-up to senior level has offered young players in his squad encouragement to follow in his footsteps.
“Though it was partly due to injuries, the manager would not have played Will if he did not trust him,” added Reeves. “The manager could have got a loan player in, but he decided to play Will because of his performances for the Under-21s. He had been outstanding in recent weeks.
“The boys know that if they put in consistent performances for the Under-21s then they may get a chance at first-team level.”
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, George Pilbeam, Mark Phillips, Ryan Sweeney, Ben Harrison, Chace Jacquart (Dan Ano), Dan Gallagher, Tom Beere, David Fitzpatrick, Egli Kaja, Dan Agyei.